By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Monday, August 8, 2016, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) was in Court to ask the Alabama Court of the Judiciary to drop the charges which the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) have brought against him. The motion for summary judgement was denied. The Court also denied a motion by attorney for the JIC that the case against Moore was so strong that the Court could simply remove Moore without going through the formality of a trial.
Both the prosecution and the defense urged the Court to decide the matter once and for all on Monday without the formality of a trial. The Court rejected both motions and set the tentative trial date for September 28. Both sides said that they expected the trial to be short, less than one full day as the material facts of the case are not in dispute.
What is in dispute is the relationship between the Federal and the State courts.
The Chief Justice’s defense attorney argued that there are two court systems: one State and one Federal and both answer to the US Supreme Court, thus Chief Justice Moore was within his rights as Alabama Chief Justice to order Alabama’s Probate Judges to continue to follow the Alabama Constitution’s definition of a legal marriage as being only between one man and one woman, even though US District Judge Callie Granade had declared that amendment to be unconstitutional and unenforceable. Under Moore’s interpretation of the supremacy clause in the US Constitution. A Federal district judge’s ruling does not supersede the state court’s authority to interpret the Constitution and that only the US Supreme Court has the authority to settle that dispute.
Prosecutor John Carroll however argued that an order by a Federal judge must be obeyed by any State official even judges.
Moore’s defense argues that Moore’s administrative order issued in January 2016, “Was merely a status order which stated a legal truism – namely the 2015 orders of the Alabama Supreme Court remained in effect, were currently under review by the Court, and that the Court would issue a ruling in the future. The administrative order did not state which way the Alabama Supreme Court would rule and did not tell probate judges to violate the US Supreme Court opinion.”
Prosecutor John Carroll however argued that since the US Supreme Court had already ruled by that time that Americans have the right to enter into same sex marriages, therefore any orders that existed before the Obergefell vs. Hodges ruling should have been automatically null and void. Moore maintains that he had recused himself from the case brought by the Alabama Policy Institute challenging the Granade ruling and was urging his fellow Supreme Court Justices to go ahead and decide the case one way or another. Carroll argues that Roy Moore was sending memorandums to his fellow Justices suggesting that they defy the ruling in Obergefell.
The administrative order stated: “I am not at liberty to provide any guidance to the Alabama probate judges on the effect of Obergefell on the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court. That issue remains before the entire Court which continues to deliberate on the matters.”
Moore is being defended by Liberty Counsel. Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Matt Staver claimed in a statement that, “The Judicial Inquiry Commission abused its authority when it filed charges against Chief Justice Roy Moore. The charges should never have been filed and must be dismissed. The JIC knows that it has no case and refuses to face the reality of the four-page administrative order, which any plain reading reveals did not direct the probate judges to disobey the US Supreme Court. The JIC’s charges are full of colorful adjectives and lacking in substance.”
Carroll meanwhile argued that Moore’s conduct throughout this matter from his response to Granade’s ruling to his letter to the Governor urging Bentley to defy the Granade ruling, to his criticism of Obergefell to his unwillingness to give an order to the probate judges demanding that they issue the same sex marriage licenses to the articles that he shared with fellow justices all were violations of judicial ethics.
Carroll said that he has spent forty years arguing cases before the Alabama Supreme Court and before Chief Justices like Howell Heflin and Perry Hooper Sr. Carroll said they were men of great faith who would have been horrified by the Obergefell ruling but they would not have done what Moore did.
Carroll argued that the only appropriate decision in this case would be for the Court of the Judiciary to remove Chief Justice Moore…….like they did in 2003 when the Southern Poverty Law Center brought a complaint to the JIC over Moore’s refusal to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Supreme Court building.
Over 250 people attended the Court of the Judiciary hearing and/or the Support Judge Moore rally on the mezzanine of the Heflin-Torbert Judicial building.
About 25 people attended the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) rally on the steps of the building.